SICV&GIS 2018

About London

Nothing prepares you for your first taste of London. This great world city is far more than just the capital of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. London is bustling, vibrant, multicultural and cosmopolitan. London is both old and new, a place where traditional pubs rub shoulders with the newest cocktail bars. Its most ancient castle is right next door to its newest skyscrapers. London's energy, as 8.6 million people go about their everyday lives, is tangible in every journey on the Underground and every walk along the banks of the River Thames. From the palaces of shopping to the real Buckingham Palace, London really does have it all.

London's many attractions have turned it into one of the world's most visited destinations, with some 28 million visitors a year. Whether visitors are seeking culture, shopping, palaces or a great night out, London has it all.

The Museum of London, Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge, the Elizabeth Tower also known as Big Ben and St Paul’s Cathedral are only few of the countless attractions in this wonderful city. London's easy to use public transport systems are another key to its popularity. The London Underground, known universally as "the tube", is simple to understand while the famous red buses are a great way to get to know London at street level. For the indulgent, no visit to London is complete without a ride in a black cab.

London is also famous for its luxurious shopping malls and hotels. Tourists mostly flock to this city because of top department stores such as Harrods, House of Fraser, Fortnum & Mason, Liberty, John Lewis, and Selfridges. The shopping experience in London is unparalleled, but the attractions go beyond just shopping.

Currency

In the United Kingdom, the currency is the GBP pound sterling (£). Foreign currencies can be exchanged for GBP at banks, travel agencies and Post Offices, as well as at London's airports and major train stations. For currency converter please click here.

£1= 100 pence (p)
Coins: £1, £2 and 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p.
Notes £5, £10, £20, £50

Credit cards – especially Visa and Mastercard – are widely accepted in London's restaurants, bars, cafés and shops. American Express and Diners Club cards are less commonly accepted. Read more here.

Weather

London and the South East have one of the mildest climates in the UK, but the weather can be unpredictable. Londoners get used to carrying both an umbrella and sunglasses to be prepared for all eventualities!

Phone And Internet On Your Smartphone

The UK dialling code is +44 (which replaces the 0). Please remember to check your own country's code before you travel.

If you're using a smartphone to browse the internet and receive emails, be aware that your network will charge you to access this data while you are in London. Many cafes, venues and selected tube stations are WiFi-enabled.

Be aware that while some hotels provide free Wi-Fi, others will charge for this service so please check with your hotel.

Useful Numbers

  • Emergency Services (Police, Fire and Ambulance) -  112 or 999
  • To report non-urgent crime, call the police on 101 from within the UK
  • The National Health Service (NHS) is the main healthcare provider in the UK. 
    Comprehensive information can be found here.

Insurance

NHS treatment is free for UK residents. Overseas nationals are not eligible for free NHS treatment except if they need emergency treatment while in the UK.
You are strongly advised to take out travel insurance to cover any medical expenses.

If you come from a country that holds a UK healthcare agreement, you are entitled to free or reduced-cost medical treatment if needed immediately for a condition that started after your arrival in the UK.

If you are visiting from Europe, you need to carry a valid EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) in case you need immediate and necessary medical treatment in an NHS hospital. Without this you can be charged for treatment. Find out more on the Department of Health website.

Embassies in London

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) keeps an up to date list of embassies, high commissions and official representatives in London and the rest of the UK. Find out more on the FCO website.

Plug, Socket and Voltage in the UK

UK appliances are fitted with three-pin plugs that can be connected to the UK mains supply through wall sockets. UK power sockets deliver an average voltage of 230v. Unlike the sockets in many other countries, these have a switch to turn the power supply on and off – make sure you've turned it on if you're trying to charge your appliance.

Time Zone

London is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which has no offset from the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC + 0).

Public Transport

London has one of the largest urban transport networks in the world, with integrated bus, river and road systems across the whole city.

The London underground, also know as ‘The Tube’, is divided into 9 zones, with zones 1 and 2 being the most central where most of London attractions are located. There are 11 Tube lines and the fares depend on the zones you are travelling to/from, time of the day and how you pay. Tube services usually run from 5am until midnight, with Night Tube services on some lines on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Note: Church House Westminster is located in Zone 1.

Buses, taxis and Thames Clipper river services are also available to travel around London, although the Tube is usually the most convenient and quickest way to move around the city. More information can be found here.

Useful Information, theatre tickets, attractions and what’s on

Official London Visitor website - www.visitlondon.com.

Travel to London

As a gateway to the UK, London benefits from a superb global airline network. It is served by five international airports and 1 International train station where Eurostar trains arrive daily from France, Amsterdam and Belgium.

Heathrow Airport
If you arrive at Heathrow airport, you can get to central London using the Heathrow Express (4 non-stop trains an hour), the Piccadilly line (Tube), the new Elizabeth Line (from Dec 2019) or pre-book a taxi.

Gatwick Airport
London Gatwick is the second largest airport in the UK and the sixth busiest international airport in the world. The centre of London can be reached in just 20 minutes by the Gatwick Express train to Victoria station (direct train) or in just over 30 minutes by normal train (with stops).

Luton Airport
London Luton is the 7th largest airport in the UK. The centre of London can be reached in just 45 minutes by direct trains to St. Pancras, Farringdon and London Blackfriars stations.

Stansted Airport
London Stansted is the city’s third international gateway. It is one of Europe’s fastest growing airports. The centre of London can be reached in 45 minutes using the Stansted Express to Liverpool Street station.

City Airport
London City serves 29 destinations and 14 airlines. It is served by the DLR line towards Tower Gateway or Bank stations. Change at Canning Town for the Jubilee line towards Westminster.

Eurostar Trains
The Eurostar arrives and departs several times a day from King’s Cross St Pancras to destinations in France and Brussels and the newly launched route to Amsterdam.

Comprehensive travel information can be found on Visit London's official website.